An eight-year-old girl stands petrified, frantically looking for the intruder in her bedroom. She can hear him playing an eerie version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips but she cannot see him. “Who is that?” she asks, and he answers, “I’m your best friend. You can do whatever you want right now. You can mess up your room. You could break your TV.”
The girl, close to tears, yells, “Mummy!” But the prospect of a parent arriving does nothing to deter the intruder. “I’m Santa Claus,” he says. “Don’t you want to be my best friend?”
This is not a scene from a Hollywood horror movie. This happened for real last December in a suburban house in Mississippi, in the United States, to Alyssa LeMay, but it could have happened anywhere. The intruder was not hiding in Alyssa’s room, he had hacked into an internet-connected camera installed by her parents to keep an eye on her and her three siblings, and he was grooming her through its speaker.